Bill C-50 (Historical)
An Act to amend certain Acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization
This bill was last introduced in the 37th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in September 2002.
Pierre Pettigrew Liberal
This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.
Pest Control Products Act
The Royal Assent
June 13th, 2002 / 4:45 p.m.
I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber, the Deputy Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
Bill C-43, an act to amend certain acts and instruments and to repeal the Fisheries Prices Support Act—Chapter 17.
Bill C-10, an act respecting the national marine conservation areas of Canada—Chapter 18.
Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization—Chapter 19.
Bill S-41, an act to re-enact legislative instruments enacted in only one official language—Chapter 20.
Bill C-27, an act respecting the long-term management of nuclear fuel waste—Chapter 22.
Bill C-47, an act respecting the taxation of spirits, wine and tobacco and the treatment of ships' stores—Chapter 22.
Bill C-59, an act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2003—Chapter 21.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
April 26th, 2002 / 10:30 a.m.
Stéphane Bergeron Verchères—Les Patriotes, QC
Mr. Speaker, having listened to the debate for a short while, I found it pretty heavy going, kind of depressing.
So I had the idea, if only to lighten things up for a few moments, to share with you a little discussion I had with my staff this morning, when I learned that today was the day I was to speak on Bill C-50, concerning accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization. I will share with you the contents of my favourite cartoon strip.
This is something I have had for some years and like to bring out from time to time. When I am feeling low, I look at it and it cheers me up.
It is taken from the comic strip Philomène , which is called Nancy and Sluggo in English. We see her standing at the front of the class. She has a little paper in her hand and she is announcing to the class “Today, my five minute report is on China. Its title is ‘China: a five minute report’”. In the next frame we see Philomène looking at her watch. Her thoughts are shown. “Oh oh, I'm in trouble”. She realizes that just saying “Today, my five minute report is on China. Its title is ‘China: a five minute report’” is not going to take up her five minutes.
Funnily enough, my favourite comic strip is about a speech on China, and today I have to talk for twenty minutes about the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization.
That said, let us get back to the heart of the issue. I think that we must conclude, or at least point out, having heard the speech by my colleague from the Canadian Alliance, that we must face up to reality. Facing up to reality means acknowledging that Canada and China entered into a bilateral agreement in November 1999 on freer trade between the two countries.
Facing up to reality means considering and acknowledging the fact that, since 1986, China has manifested its intention to join the WTO. Since then, it has negotiated bilateral agreements with some forty WTO members, Canada among them. The provisions of these bilateral agreements apply to other WTO members by virtue of the most favoured nation criterion.
It must be noted also that, for all intents and purposes, China is already a member of the WTO pursuant to the protocol on the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization that came into effect on December 11, 2001. Consequently, Canada has no choice but to adapt its legislation, and I will explain why in a few moments. Normally, Canada does not have to adapt its legislation when a new country joins the World Trade Organization, but it must do so in the case of China, and I will come back to that shortly. Perhaps this will respond to some of the concerns expressed by our colleague from the Canadian Alliance. Facing up to reality means adapting our legislation accordingly.
Our colleague from the Canadian Alliance was saying that we do not necessarily have to initiate trade relations with a country just because that country belongs to the World Trade Organization. The Government of Canada can decide not to trade with a country such as the People's Republic of China.
With all due respect, I would tell my colleague from the Canadian Alliance, who claims to put the private sector at the centre of our economic system and to be in favour of free trade, that it is not for the government to determine whether or not a Canadian business wants to trade with China.
It is for Canadian or Quebec businesses to decide whether they want to trade with the People's Republic of China, whether or not that country is a member of the World Trade Organization. It is not for the government to decide, unless there is a political decision on the part of the government to boycott a particular country. However, I do not think there is any plan to boycott the People's Republic of China at this time.
If the Alliance member is suggesting in any way that the government should boycott the People's Republic of China, I think he should have informed the House of his view, since it would be a rather spectacular and drastic measure that would be a radical departure from what has been Canada's approach with regard to the People's Republic of China over the last few years.
I would like to say a few words about the People's Republic of China. Admittedly, this is not one of the most democratic countries in the world. With the reports of organizations like Amnesty International, we realize that human rights violations actually do occur in the People's Republic of China.
However, we should also realize that the People's Republic of China represents one fifth of the world population. Is it really possible to isolate from the rest of the world one fifth of the population of the planet simply because it does not have a democratic system and because there are human rights violations there?
Democracies are a tiny minority in the world. Does this mean that the free and democratic nations should live just among themselves, and let the rest of the world fend for itself? No, this is not the philosophy of Canada, nor is it the philosophy of Quebec.
A number of years ago, we realized that the development of democracy was closely linked to economic development. This is why, many years ago, Canada and all developed countries set up and maintained development assistance programs and international cooperation programs, so that all the countries we used to call third world countries, and which we now call, more appropriately, developing countries, could set out with determination on the road to both economic and democratic development, and eventually become countries living under the rule of law, totally democratic and respectful of human rights. I think the market economy certainly contributes to economic, human, and democratic development.
The remarks of the Canadian Alliance member make this important philosophical debate unavoidable. How should democratic nations like Canada respond to autocratic nations, to nations that do not have as much respect for human rights and are therefore, on this score, developing nations?
Must we, as we did specifically in the case of South Africa, take a hard line, a policy by which we will totally isolate these states on the economic and political level? Or will we choose, as we did in the case of most developing states in the world, the way of co-operation and trade relations, to lead these countries down the road to economic, democratic et human development?
While we must recognize that, in the case of South Africa, the situation was quite out of the ordinary, I would say that we chose, several years ago, to promote open relations and to establish as many links as possible with these countries, to lead them down the road to development.
It must also be recognized that the People's Republic of China is Canada's fourth largest trade partner. Its trade with Canada reached $15 billion in 2000. It must be recognized that the People's Republic of China is the seventh most powerful economy in the world and the ninth largest exporter.
This means that we cannot indefinitely isolate states such as the People's Republic of China, and many other states around the world, which have a system that is more autocratic or less open to human development and other aspects. I think that is what accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization finally recognizes.
Our colleague of the Alliance was saying “Yes, but they have minimal working conditions and their production costs are much lower that those in Canada. Consequently, we are not on the same level, we will not benefit from the same conditions. China will therefore have the advantage and will be able to sell on the Canadian market similar goods that it will have produced at much lower costs, thus outdoing Canadian goods and the Canadian businesses that produce them”.
This is indeed a legitimate concern, if ever there was one. However, we must realize that the members of the World Trade Organization have also faced up to this reality, that China does not currently have a market economy, and that production costs in China are definitely lower than just about anywhere else in the world. Working conditions are also lower.
This has been acknowledged. Consequently, specific protections were included in the accord on China's accession to the WTO and, as a result, we now have to incorporate them into Canadian legislation. These protective measures are temporary, but they will allow Canada and other WTO members to protect their markets during the transtion period.
The bill before us today, Bill C-50, deals with China's accession to the World Trade Organization. The bill amends some Canadian legislation, including the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act and the Export and Import Permits Act, to allow the government to apply, if need be, the protective measures set out in the accord on China's accession to the World Trade Organization.
Bill C-50 also amends the Special Import Measures Act to include provisions in Canadian statutes regarding anti-dumping investigations provided for in the accord on China's accession to the WTO.
In practical terms, three guarantees would be added. There are three guarantees set out in the treaty on China's accession to the WTO. There is what is known as a guarantee per product, which may be applied to any product originating from the People's Republic of China that impacts or threatens to impact Canadian industry negatively because of increased imports of Chinese goods produced at a lower cost than on the Canadian market.
There is a guarantee of diversion, which can be used to prevent Chinese products that have been denied access to markets by reason of a guarantee per product from flooding the Canadian market, thereby having a negative impact our industry.
I think that the guarantee of diversion has taken on a new significance in the last few weeks when, for example, the United States decided to apply safeguard measures to prevent the importation of steel into their market. Canada could have become some sort of outlet for steel products meant for the United States, and these products could have ended on our Canadian market or elsewhere. This is exactly the type of situation we want to prevent with the guarantee of diversion.
For example, if a country applies safeguard measures, invoking the guarantee per product to keep products originating in the People's Republic of China from entering its market, a neighbouring country can invoke the guarantee of diversion to prevent those Chinese products being denied access to the first country from flooding its market, in this case the Canadian market.
There is a third special guarantee that applies to clothing and textile imports from China. To respond to the concerns of our colleague from the Canadian Alliance, I must say that there are provisions in the treaty on the accession of the People's Republic of China to the World Trade Organization that will become part of Canadian legislation pursuant to Bill C-50. There are guarantees that actually allow us to protect the Canadian market against the unfair competition feared by our colleague from the Alliance because of the present economic conditions in the People's Republic of China.
Let me come back briefly to the philosophical debate I mentioned earlier. We are having this debate in the House today because of some comments by our Canadian Alliance colleague, who has once again brought up the whole issue of the appropriateness of opening our arms to countries whose the system is much less democratic than ours, where there is no market based economy or whatever else.
This is a recurring issue. I remember that there was a debate very recently at the Inter-Parliamentary Union as to whether we should admit the Shoura, which is the consultative council of Saudi Arabia—I am not using the expression legislative council, because it is a little hard to determine whether the Shoura does indeed meet the definition of a parliament in legislative terms. So, the Inter-Parliamentary Union wondered whether it should admit the Shoura as one of its members.
This debate was also going on. Some were saying “Human rights are being violated in Saudi Arabia. That country is not a democratic state. Members of the Shoura are not elected; they are appointed by the king. They can be removed at the king's pleasure. They are not called upon to oppose legislation that the king might want to enact. Why should we let it join the Inter-Parliamentary Union?”
Then, there were those who were saying “If we want Saudi Arabia's legislative system to eventually include women as members of the Shoura, to eventually have members elected to that council and to ensure that these members are not at the mercy of an autocratic ruler, if we really want to lead Saudi Arabia down the road to a more democratic system, even though it must be recognized that the Shoura has already made a lot progress in a fairly short period of time, in terms of the number of its members of various origins in Saudi society, then this is what must be done”.
This was the other view that was expressed. Both of these views are very relevant and legitimate. Ultimately, we must go back to the fundamental question that I raised earlier. In fact, is the best way to lead these countries down the road to democracy, human development and democratic development, not to share our experience with them and ensure that these countries are more open and eventually adopt ways of doing things that are similar to ours?
I will conclude by touching briefly on the issues of human rights and economic development. China's accession to the World Trade Organization and the implementation bill before the House today will not be enough to change the mindset and the economic and political system of the Chinese people.
We will have to continue putting pressure on the Chinese authorities to move toward freer trade, democracy and better human rights. We will have to support human development and international co-operation in China and throughout the world.
Therefore, I urge the government to recommit to the international objective, which is to set aside 0.7% of our gross domestic product for international development. Because of the government cuts, the development assistance budget has gone from 0.46% in 1992 to 0.25%. The increases announced recently would only raise it to 0.27%.
We must urge the government to step up its efforts to reach the objective of 0.7% of our GDP.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
April 26th, 2002 / 10 a.m.
Darrel Stinson Okanagan—Shuswap, BC
Mr. Speaker, the House is considering putting in place a complex system for Canadian manufacturers of goods in order to lodge formal complaints if they believe they are receiving unfair competition from imports of similar goods made in the People's Republic of China. It is called Bill C-50.
How do my hon. colleagues think there could be fair competition between Canada and China, where workers' rights and job safety are far behind that of Canada, where child labour is still widespread, where permits and regulatory control are routinely bypassed by means of graft and corruption of government officials, and where environmental protection is far behind that of Canada?
Long time foreign service representative to China, Mr. Brian McAdam, described China as a climate of corruption. I wish to thank him for the input he has made to some of the questions I put forward to him, it was very insightful.
The American chamber of commerce in China has stated that the average industrial wage in China is about $4 an hour. Literally nobody in Canada makes such a low wage. How can the government expect our companies and our people to compete against such a system?
All of the above factors mean that a company in Canada, where workers have many rights, where child labour is no longer practised and has not been for years, where job safety is a major concern of everyone, and where environmental protection and regulations like building codes are taken seriously, would find it more costly to produce an item than a similar company in China.
One of the biggest differences is that prison labour is a fact of life in China. No matter what we like to think here or where we hope this goes, prison labour is a way of life in China. There are millions in prison for being pregnant without permission, shouting “Free Tibet”, working for women's rights, seeking religious freedoms to practice Falun Gong, and protesting the lack of investigation of the tragic events of the Tiananmen Square massacre which took place on the night of June 3 to June 4, 1989. That still has not been addressed to the satisfaction of the world stage.
Amnesty International has provided me with the following information:
Torture has been reported in the full range of state institutions, from police stations, detention centres and prisons to administrative “re-education through labour” camps and enforced drug rehabilitation centres. It has also been inflicted by officials working outside the criminal justice system, sometimes publicly, to humiliate, threaten or coerce. Methods of torture include severe beating, kicking, electric shocks, hanging by the arms, shackling in painful positions, exposure to extreme heat or cold, sleep and food deprivation.
Prison conditions are harsh, often with long hours of forced labour and inadequate medical care. Some dissidents not known to have psychiatric problems have been sent to psychiatric institutions where they have been forcibly injected with drugs. Reports of torture increase during periodic "strike hard" campaigns against specific crimes and during high-profile political campaigns like the current crackdown on the banned Falun Gong organization.Groups at particular risk include ordinary criminal suspects and migrant workers, religious and ethnic minorities, labour activists and political dissidents.
If this is what is going into in the agreement, I have to wonder what we are really doing here.
We all know that under Chinese law torture is prohibited in most circumstances. China has been called before the world stage a number of times with regard to these issues.
This is from Amnesty International's backgrounder: Jigme Sangpo has spent most of the past 40 years behind bars. He was first arrested in 1960 and sent to a re-education camp for allegedly subjecting the students to corporal punishment. He was arrested again in 1970 and sentenced to 10 years for his political activities. His latest period of detention began in 1983 when he was given a 15 year sentence for spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda after he put up a wall poster calling for Tibetan independence. The sentence was extended for five years in 1988 after he shouted slogans and a further eight years in 1991 after he shouted “Free Tibet” during a visit to the prison by the Swiss ambassador to China.
I have to wonder exactly where we are going. According to Amnesty International, at least 2,960 people have been sentenced to death and 1,781 executed in the last three months of China's strike hard campaign against crime. Amnesty International said today that more people were executed in China in the last three months than in the world for the last three years.
When we go into these types of agreements we should be looking very closely at the practices in these other countries. I do not want anybody here to get the idea that I am against free fair trade. I want to emphasize the word fair, fair not only in the marketplace but also fair to the people of the country with which we are willing to do business.
I have to wonder what is going on when we go into these agreements and these issues are not addressed. We like to stand here and say that if we do this, maybe the country of concern will come to the same understanding for their people as we do here in Canada. To me the word maybe is a big gamble.
I especially have to wonder when, in all sincerity, our trade with China is actually a deficit. We import approximately $10.5 billion from China yet we export a very small fraction of that. When we do this with a country whose movements against the Falun Gong, Protestants, Catholics and other religious groups and its lack of commitment to internationally agreed upon standards for human rights, one would think that all of us in the House should be concerned, especially when we consider the fact that our trade with China is so relatively small.
I have to wonder if our speed on this might have something to do with the fact that the Prime Minister's son-in-law is the chairman of the Canada-China Trade Council. Probably the largest company in China with any interest in China at all is the Power Corporation and it also has ties.
The government members are proud of saying that they support human rights. They like to stand up and say that they are caring and sharing and that they will not support regimes in one place or another that impact upon human rights, workers' rights, religious freedoms and free speech, and yet we still go down this road without those things being addressed, which causes me grave concerns.
The idea of a country the size of Canada, with a population of approximately 32 million, trading with a country with a population of over 1.5 billion people, should in all cases open up doors for trade expansion in Canada. Unfortunately, when we look at the reality, the country to which we will be opening our doors and competing against is a country that still believes in forced child labour and still practices forced prison labour, which puts our companies in dire straits for competition in the marketplace. Instead of waiting to address some of these issues, they should have been addressed before we went there.
I want everyone in the House to understand that there is nothing wrong with trade as long as it is free and fair. When practices, such as those that go on in China today, are not perceived as being free or fair, particularly as compared to our standard of living, I have to question the wisdom of where we are going.
Business of the House
Oral Question Period
April 25th, 2002 / 3 p.m.
Ralph Goodale Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will continue debate on third reading of Bill C-50, the WTO legislation. When that is concluded we will take up report stage and third reading of Bill C-47 dealing with excise.
On Monday and Tuesday of next week we expect to return to Bill C-5 which deals with species at risk. I would then hope that on Wednesday we could commence debate on the new public safety legislation which I expect to be introduced on Monday.
In response to the Leader of the Opposition on the matter of private members' business, I commend the hon. member for Peterborough who is the chair of the committee on procedure and House affairs. He has taken the initiative to organize under the auspices of the committee a roundtable discussion among members about better alternatives for dealing with private members' business.
As all House leaders know, finding the right way to manage private members' business, particularly the question of votability, is a topic that has bedeviled not just this parliament but previous parliaments. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested everything be votable. That is the rule that applies to government business. If we could come to a consensus about the time that applies to private members' business perhaps we could apply some of the same rules we apply to government business.
As I said during question period, we need creative thinking on the issue. We need a solid co-operative approach. I am perfectly happy to set aside the rhetoric and find ways that will work for all members of parliament.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
April 24th, 2002 / 5:05 p.m.
Jason Kenney Calgary Southeast, AB
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to debate Bill C-50. I had an opportunity to speak to this bill at second reading and while it is not an issue that falls within any critic portfolio, I have held a very strong ongoing interest in Canada's relations with the People's Republic of China, particularly vis-à-vis that country's and government's atrocious record of the systematic violation of human rights.
First, I am deeply ambivalent about the accession of the PRC to the World Trade Organization. On the one hand, some have made a plausible argument for it. My colleague, the trade critic for the Alliance and member for Vancouver Island North, quoted from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, to the effect that China's accession to the WTO may prove to be beneficial in encouraging democratization and respect for human rights. On the other hand, I have seen China's increased integration with free market, democratic, western economies, without a concomitant result in terms of respect for human rights or democratization of its political system. To the contrary, there has been considerable evidence presented by independent observers such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in recent years that, as the Chinese economy has become ostensibly more open, its political system has become actually more closed.
I am deeply skeptical about the entire premise of our so-called foreign policy vis-à-vis China known as constructive engagement. It seems to me that it is constructive for the Chinese communist oligarchy, which often benefits financially in a very direct personal way through its interest in state owned companies. It is beneficial for it to create a political pressure valve which can, by increasing living standards for a certain segment of the Chinese population, remove immediate political demands from parts of the Chinese political constituency.
However I do not think it is constructive for the vast majority of Chinese who continue to live under a one party, dictatorial, totalitarian regime whose entire premise is that the state and its prerogatives trump the dignity of the individual human person. We can see that this is the case. I will address the human rights situation in China in a moment.
Let me say that while I am ambivalent and skeptical about China's accession to the WTO, I support Bill C-50 because it at least provides restrictions for China's membership in the WTO vis-à-vis its bilateral trade relations with Canada. It provides certain basic trade remedy tools to private industry in Canada to address potential dumping or unfair trade practices on the part of the PRC, in particular on the part of government owned enterprise there.
For instance, I spoke with a constituent who owns a medium sized private sector manufacturing company in Calgary that produces precision machinery and equipment. He advised me that he was losing orders both here and in the United States to Chinese exports that were being sold at what he believed were prices that were below the actual raw material input costs for these precision implements. That would seem to be a prima facie case of dumping or an unfair trade practice on the part of the Chinese.
While I am a free trader in principle and do believe that rules based trade agreements based on minimizing tariffs and barriers are very important policy objectives for an export oriented country such as ours, I do think that when we are dealing with a communist system, such as that in China where the vast majority of the economy is operated by state owned enterprises and where they have no tradition of rules based trade or the rule of law itself, domestically or, I would argue, internationally, it is extremely important to have a framework for addressing unfair practices. I understand that the WTO's agreement itself with China runs over 900 pages long to ensure that the PRC government does observe free trade practices and does not engage in dumping and other unfair practices.
I further understand that the Chinese will have to amend some 400 to 500 domestic statutes in order to come into full compliance. Frankly I am skeptical about their political will or ability to do so, given that if they really do implement and adopt the spirit of the WTO, there will be tremendous transitional costs to its economy. For instance, their banking sector, which is very precarious, is overwhelmingly dominated by government owned banks, the Bank of China. If they face serious open competition by the western financial services sector, we will see major challenges to the Chinese banking system. I really do question whether or not the communist leadership will pay the price that comes along with the benefit of membership in the WTO, but we will see.
Another reason why, notwithstanding my ambivalence, I support the bill and lean toward supporting China's accession to the WTO is that its accession came concurrent with the accession of the Republic of China on Taiwan which, until quite recently, had a more important and robust trading relationship with Canada. I think that we spent so much time focusing on the PRC that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that our trading relationship is quite exaggerated. We know that nearly 90% of our international trade is conducted with the United States and we have a relatively small trade with the PRC. In fact within that trade we receive, I gather, about $11 billion in imports from China annually, but our exports to China are a fraction of that. We are running an enormous trade deficit with that country, whereas we have had a long and very profitable relationship with the Republic of China or Taiwan since the early 1950s.
The Republic of China on Taiwan has, I believe, the 11th largest economy in the world. It is our eighth largest trading partner. I find it bizarre and sometimes shameful that the government treats the state of the Republic of China on Taiwan as a pariah. We will not even grant visas for their ministers to visit Canada on a personal basis let alone on an official basis. We refuse to encourage its accession even as observers to the World Health Organization or UNESCO. We will not allow high level Canadian government delegations to visit Taiwan and to improve our already strong and vigorous trade relationship.
With that responsible, independent democracy, which respects human rights, why is it that we allow Beijing to dictate our foreign policy vis-à-vis Taiwan? I have a suggestion. It may have something to do with the fact that the Prime Minister's son-in-law is chairman of the Canada-China trade council, that his son-in-law's father was the founding chairman of that entity a couple of decades ago and that one of the very few large companies in Canada with any interests in the PRC happens to be Power Corp.
There is no rational explanation for Canada's utter subservience to the foreign policy of the PRC vis-à-vis Taiwan and our refusal to speak out vigorously about human rights abuses in that regime except for the attitude of the Prime Minister which, I submit, is influenced strongly by his fairly close direct family relations and interests in the PRC.
It is not untoward to suggest that the one company with a longstanding industrial relationship in the PRC, owned by members of the prime minister's family, has an interest in maintaining, I would argue, a policy vis-à-vis Beijing which is not in the best interests of Canada and which is definitely not consistent with our historical track record as a champion of human rights and democracy.
I will now turn my remarks to that issue. Bill C-50, regrettably, does not even mention in principle the importance of China moving toward a system that recognizes democratic rights.
I will quote from Steven Mosher who is a long time expert on the human rights situation in China. Before congress last year he said “If medals were given to nations for committing human rights abuses, China would win the gold every time.
Let me detail for members some of the more recent reports on human rights abuses in that communist country perpetrated by the regime so we get a concrete sense. We often talk about human rights issues as some abstract obsession of certain academics or people on the political left. In fact millions of real people with families and real lives are today enslaved in forced labour camps in the PRC. They are denied the ability to practise their religion with freedom and impunity from state sanction. They are rounded up and imprisoned without due process and are denied the ability to choose their own local representatives. They are jailed for their political opinions or for dissenting from the official communist line.
Let me refer to information from the Cardinal Kung Foundation which observes the situation of loyal Chinese Catholics. According to the Kung Foundation, the Beijing regime's persecution of the underground Catholic church has not only been carried on for the last five decades but this persecution has recently taken on a greater degree of intensity and boldness.
For example, Father LU Genjun, 39 years old, an underground Roman Catholic priest, was arrested about two months ago shortly before Easter in Baoding, Hebei province. The statement on his arrest clearly listed Father LU Genjun's crimes as receiving theology training, being ordained a Roman Catholic priest and conducting evangelization activities. He was arrested and jailed for doing what a priest does. He is only one of thousands.
New York based Human Rights Watch, in its 2002 world report, said:
China's increasingly prominent international profile, symbolised in 2001 by its entry into the World Trade Organisation and by Beijing's successful bid to host the 2008 Olympics,--
That is absurd. The report continued:
--was accompanied by tightened controls on fundamental freedoms.
Human Rights Watch tells us that China's recent strike hard anti-crime campaign has been used to crack down on political opponents of the regime. “10,000 suspected criminals were arrested in the first months of the Strike Hard campaign...and by the end of October at least 1,800 were executed and twice that number sentenced to death”, according to Human Rights Watch.
It added that moves to eradicate the Falun Gong group led to torture and imprisonment.
Police also cracked down on several other Buddhist and Taoist mystical groups, while closing hundreds of unregistered Protestant and Catholic churches.
Falun Gong continued to experience the harshest repression, with thousands of practitioners assigned to re-education through labour camps and more than 350 imprisoned, many for nothing more than printing leaflets or recruiting followers.
A report from the Far Eastern Economic Review states:
In the wake of its being awarded the 2008 Olympic Games, China is ordering one of its remote, poverty-stricken regions to commit at least 20,000 abortions by the end of this year.
This is part of China's forced abortion and mandatory sterilization program which we shamefully finance through our contributions to the United Nations fund for population activities.
ZENIT, the news organization, reported:
In the middle of the night July 10 the police took Father Liao Haiqing of Yujiang Diocese from his home and then interrupted a study-meeting of 15 other priests of the same district, arresting those present--
They were sentenced for being political opponents of the regime simply for preaching the gospel.
Amnesty International's 2001 report states:
Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics who worshipped outside the official “patriotic” churches were the victims of a continuing pattern of arrests, fines and harassment. Scores arrested in recent years remained in prison or labour camps.
The report went on to point out:
In September, 24 Roman Catholics, including a priest and 20 nuns, were detained in Fujian province when police found them holding church services in a mushroom-processing factory. According to reports, Father Liu Shaozhang was so severely beaten by police during arrest that he vomited blood. Two of the nuns were allegedly released the following day after parishioners paid a large sum of money to the police; the whereabouts of the other 22 detainees remained unknown--
I could go on and on but I would suggest that my colleagues or the general public could consult the websites of Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch, the Cardinal Kung Foundation or any one of the organizations established by the North American refugees from China who were involved in the Tiananmen Square protest and massacre of a decade ago. That was a massacre which the PRC communist government has still not acknowledged or even apologized for and this is a country whose human rights record the Prime Minister will not deign even to comment on in a seriously negative light.
I propose that, and Human Rights Watch recommends this, as a part of China's accession to the WTO we should insist that China invite the United Nations special rapporteur on religious intolerance to return to China to assess progress toward implementation of his 1994 recommendations in that country.
The government's silence on the issue is not new. Just recently the United Nations Human Rights Commission had its annual session in Geneva. Absent, shockingly, was the United States of America which had been voted off the commission by human rights paragons, such as Syria and Libya, who sat on the commission. For 40 years the U.S. representative on the UNHRC had put forward a relevant motion each year critical of China's human rights abuses but the U.S. was not there this year.
Canada was there but we did not stand in the breach. We did not offer a motion critical of China's human rights record. While the UNHRC was condemning Israel for defending its sovereignty, a motion voted on by countries like Libya, we did not stand up to criticize the arrest of innocent Chinese for practising their religion and holding political views at variance with that of the totalitarian regime.
The current member for Mount Royal, when he was a law professor, said two years ago:
I think our indifference, sometimes clothed in the notion of neutrality, means we're coming down on the side of the victimizer.
Warren Allmand, former Liberal MP, said:
It is the Prime Minister's...single-minded approach to boosting trade that has watered down Canada's previously harder line on Chinese human rights abuses.
The Prime Minister was quoted on February 12 of last year as saying:
The press wanted me to give instructions to the Chinese. I said we have to put it into perspective a bit. You know we are 30 million. They are 1.2 billion. They want me to tell the Chinese what to do, but they don't want me to tell the premiers what to do.
It is absurd to suggest that this country, which regards itself as a paragon of human rights and democracy, should take that approach.
In closing, I will support the bill only because it does impose restrictions and ensures fair trade practices on the part of the PRC.
However I will do so with strong opposition to the government's most obsequious policy of any western government toward the totalitarian regime in China. All members in voting on this should keep in mind the millions who are in forced labour camps and whose human rights are being violated on a daily basis by that country.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
April 24th, 2002 / 4:25 p.m.
Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-50. Other of my colleagues in the New Democratic Party have spoken during other stages and we remain opposed to the bill.
In listening to the debate today I have to say the irony of it has not escaped me. Much of the discussion by various members has focused on their feelings, issues and concerns about the People's Republic of China, the status of its workers and the environment. In reality we are debating something that has already happened. The People's Republic of China joined the World Trade Organization last December.
We are debating what is primarily housekeeping legislation which deals with the consequences of dealing with Canadian industries that will be negatively impacted and seeking some protection for about 12 years. I suppose in the total order of things as consequences go, the best thing is to try to seek some protection. However the underlying issue that keeps coming out in the debate, whether one is for or against the bill, is the position of China and its role within the WTO and its role within the global community.
It is ironic because the vehicle that has allowed this to happen is a membership in a very elite club. My colleague from the Bloc, whom I usually agree with, a few minutes ago talked about China taking its place. I want to express the irony that somehow the World Trade Organization has become the symbol of whatever it means for a country or a nation state to take its place. The WTO in and of itself is fundamentally an undemocratic institution. It is fundamentally an organization that places the needs of capital movement and of corporations to do trade with the minimum amount of rules above the issues of a democratically elected parliament here in Canada or anywhere else in the world.
In some ways it is unfortunate. I sense that a huge gap exists between what we would like to debate in terms of our concerns with the PRC and our ability to express them, which somehow has been channeled into the WTO. The WTO has made it very clear it has no intention, despite many efforts, to deal with concerns around the environment or international labour laws. I say that by way of preface because that is fundamentally why members of the New Democratic Party cannot support the bill.
Today in question period I raised the terrible situation that is unfolding in my province of British Columbia around the massive restructuring of health care. It relates to this bill because what is taking place in my province is a wholesale restructuring of public services that have been built up over many decades.
Sixty-five hundred people stand to lose their jobs in the health care system. These are people who care for frail people, elderly and sick people in community care settings and long term care institutions. Those of us who have been following the debate in B.C. are most concerned about the jeopardy of what is now to come and that is privatization. With privatization comes an exposure of these public services under these trade agreements. Therefore they are very much related.
The situation in B.C. is very much on my mind today. I continue to get calls from constituents who are asking what happened to our medicare system and why is it not at the top of the federal political agenda. Is the feeling that we have this universal medicare system not one thing that speaks to who we are as Canadians?
Yet it too is under attack because of lack of funding, because of setting the stage for privatization that would be facilitated not by the bill itself but by what has caused this bill to come forward, which is the World Trade Organization. I am deeply concerned about the state of things, where we are headed as a country and where the planet is headed.
I have already said that the WTO is a very undemocratic organization. There is no opportunity for ordinary citizens to be heard. My colleagues in the federal NDP and I have participated in many rallies, workshops and demonstrations around trade liberalization and what is commonly referred to as globalization. Amazingly thousands of people have taken it upon themselves to become informed and educated about organizations such as the WTO, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Even a decade ago there was very little information known about these already very powerful organizations. The only reason we have some knowledge about their vast impact on our daily lives, the economy and the democratic life of our country and our ability to create laws in the public interest is citizens have taken it upon themselves to become informed and to organize, to mobilize. They are standing up for the public interest. They are saying that the interests of all of us in society are more important and have to take precedence over private corporate interests. That is another reason we in the NDP are strongly opposed to the WTO.
In terms of the impact Bill C-50 would have, I listened to my colleague from the Bloc speak about model cities in China, about China taking its place and that this was a way to encourage development between the two countries. It seems to me that the ability to do that through the WTO or through trade agreements is non-existent. Whenever issues around human rights, the environment or poverty have been put forward as part of the trade issue, they have always been bounced off.
We have seen it time after time with team Canada, with all of the infrastructure and the millions of dollars it costs to put those things together, when it goes on those big trade missions to China. Various organizations have sought to have the social concerns and the human rights concerns put forward as part of those delegations and missions. They are always told that they do not belong there as it is a trade mission and to have faith because trade will improve everything else. I do not see any evidence of that happening.
One of the most disturbing things is that China stands out internationally for its flagrant disregard of human rights. We have heard about the situation in Tibet. I have been to many rallies to support the self-determination of the Tibetan people. Their cultural, religious and political freedoms have been brutally squashed in the People's Republic of China.
We only have to look at the situation facing workers in that country. We know that in March of last year China actually ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which is good. It is a very important covenant to which Canada is also a signatory. It spells out social and economic rights of individual citizens of a country that has become a signatory.
Ironically China filed a reservation under article 8.1(a). What does that do? It prevents workers from freely forming trade unions.
This encompasses the most fundamental freedom, the right of workers to organize freely without interference from the state or from the employer, to negotiate on a level playing field, to assert their rights and to have decent working conditions and wages. The People's Republic of China filed a reservation on that section.
There are numerous abuses and violations of the most basic rights that would be recognized by the International Labour Organization. We hear horror stories of what happens in factories. In some instances women involved in mass production are actually locked in a factory and when a fire breaks out they cannot escape. Many workers burn to death.
It is hard to imagine that kind of situation in Canada, although it did happen many decades ago. One reason for May Day and International Women's Day is they recognize the struggles that have taken place for working people to actually assert their rights and to win the most basic thing, which is safe working conditions.
It is 2002 and we are still facing the reality that the People's Republic of China does not allow those basic freedoms to be enjoyed by its workers. It does not allow basic political freedoms or religious freedoms. We have witnessed the Falun Gong members on Parliament Hill. They have spoken out because their members in China have been tortured, murdered and silenced from practising their beliefs.
These things are relevant to the debate today because we are part of the global community. In some ways we are part of setting the standard. Many people around the globe look to Canada as a place that has a basic value of respecting fundamental human rights.
Historically, we certainly have had situations in Canada. One only has to look at the tragedy of what has happened to the aboriginal people and how they have been marginalized, criminalized and had land taken from them. We have our history too. Nevertheless, many people look to Canada as a place where human rights are respected. There is a belief that we should be a leader in the international community not only to defend rights in Canada but also to speak out in the international community.
While the consequences of the bill are to provide some safeguards to Canadian industries and hopefully it will have some effect in that way, I have to be very clear that even at this late stage of the debate the NDP cannot in principle support the bill because of what underlies it. Based on the conversations I have had and the education I have gone through in talking with constituents, I feel strongly that people in Canada want to see our federal government engage in trade practices that are fair.
We want to engage in trade practices that recognize the protection of our environment, the establishment of important labour standards, the establishment of social standards. They cannot be divorced from trade. These are not separate but are part and parcel of one another.
We stand most strongly for the idea of fair trade. It is not that we are opposed to international trade. It exists. Trading has gone on for thousands of years and more so in today's technological world. However, I would stand here today and every other day and argue that we should never defend a jurisdiction, an agreement or an organization that usurps democratic practice or undermines democratic legislation and removes the power of government in favour of creating an unfettered field for private corporations.
Even the notion of free trade is such a loaded term because it is basically free trade at the expense of everything else. I reject that. It is not that I reject trade. I reject the notion and the practice of what has now escalated so rapidly in the last decade. Now we see that after 15 years of negotiations the People's Republic of China has entered this world elite club of the WTO. Some people I know see that as fabulous news and as the vehicle for better relations, but let it be said that I think there is a growing number of people who do not see that as an appropriate vehicle and who will continue to speak out to defend human rights and to protect the environment.
In closing I would just reiterate that we do not support the bill. We will continue to express our concerns about what happens in our own country and also internationally. We are part of the global community. I am very proud that defending international covenants and international human rights is something that we as New Democrats do and I know we will continue to do that.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
April 24th, 2002 / 3:55 p.m.
Paul Crête Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC
Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization.
Westerners and North Americans have had various visions of China over the years. First, I think it has always been for us the land of all inventions. One just has to think of paper, rice growing and all kinds of inventions showing that the Chinese have often been more advanced than the rest of the planet. These inventions are still used today on a regular basis.
It is also a land of missions. Missionaries from Quebec and Canada went to China, particularly at the beginning of the 20th century, and projected a certain vision of China in their relationships with Quebecers and Canadians.
It is also a communist country which, after World War II and because of efforts made during the war, chose a government that had concrete objectives to ensure that everyone had food to eat and a place to stay.
We must always look at these decisions in the context of what the country went through and avoid making judgments based only on our perceptions as westerners, without taking into account the reality. But the Chinese revolution is still an important aspect. The father of the Chinese revolution, Mao Zedong, brought deep changes to the Chinese society. Today, the Communist Party of China is still running the country and is trying to adapt to the realities of today's world. It is another aspect of China that we have seen these past few years.
Over the last ten years in particular, it has become the caricature of a country ruled by free market and unbridled capitalism, just as we would have probably seen in North America in the late 1800s or early 1900s.
I believe we must look at the reality of China. That is why I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak, as the vice-president of the Canada-China Parliamentary Association. Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to China and see for myself, during a brief but informative two week visit, some of the reality of eastern China, by far the most developed part. China has met some extraordinary challenges in terms of economic development. It has created entire new cities from scratch, some of them models as far as environmental concerns go. I think we could take a few pages from their book in this area.
There is a whole other aspect to China, however, the western part. Then there is the matter of China's relations with Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong. These are all very important points.
As for the international trade agreement, implementation of which will make it possible for China to accede to the WTO, and to have an entry into Canada under that agreement, let us recall that there are 1.250 billion people in China. Such a large population requires a particular kind of administration. Governing a country with a population of 30 million, as we have in Canada, is not the same as governing a country of 1.250 billion. It is the seventh ranking world economy and the ninth ranking in exports. Its population accounts for one-fifth of the world's total population.
We are therefore dealing with a country that is a power unto itself because of its population numbers and its actions. Within 20 or 25 years, China may have made unprecedented progress and may even have become the leading economic power in the world.
Something we should bear in mind is that, ultimately, what we are doing here in amending our statutes to provide for the accession of China to the WTO and to adapt Canada's and Quebec's legislation, is being done to increase bilateral trade between the two countries. For Quebecers and Canadians, there are clear benefits in having access to the Chinese market, and China has an interest in having access to our market and skills. In that sense, this agreement seems relevant and positive for both parties.
Included in the positive outcomes is the development of China. We are witnessing an improvement in production, which is very important, and in the quality of life there. My discussions with Chinese parliamentarians and private citizens suggest that in the last ten years, the quality of life has improved significantly in China, especially in urban areas.
But there are still daunting challenges to take up in rural areas. We can have exchanges on this, because we also have a long way to go. Setting up a Canada-China parliamentary association to foster discussions on this among parliamentarians has been a significant development. These discussions are part and parcel of all that needs to be done and of the relationship that should be maintained between our two countries.
This new way of doing things is quite the challenge for China's economy, and also for the whole western world. In the year 2000, trade between Canada and China totalled some $15 billion.
There are challenges to be met. China, Canada, Quebec and all the countries that are part of the WTO must create more wealth. But this also means that we have to deal with all the problems relating to the distribution of this wealth, and with the concerns relating to regional development. As we saw, the major challenge for the Chinese is to develop the vast natural resources located in the western part of China.
During the discussions that I had with Chinese parliamentarians, I told them, based on our experience in Quebec and in Canada that “it is fine to develop natural resources, but if you undertake this process, you must find ways to ensure secondary or tertiary processing from the outset, to avoid situations where certain regions are dependent on central regions and, in the end, the economic support provided is insufficient for them to catch up”.
So, the distribution of wealth is a challenge. Discussions are taking place between Chinese and Canadian parliamentarians, including some from Quebec, on how to generate wealth in an open economy as opposed to a state controlled economy, and on how to distribute this wealth.
The Chinese government is pondering certain issues. Should it set up an employment insurance program? Is the Canadian model adequate? Are there other ways of doing this? The Chinese asked questions and they are trying to determine what is appropriate. We should continue this dialogue with them.
It must also be realized that China is facing this extraordinary challenge at a time when the Chinese government is about to undergo a change. A clear pattern has been noticed in recent years and decades. What spirit will drive China's new elected politicians and leaders? Will they keep going in the same direction?
It is in our best interests, I believe, to maintain relations with China, through measures such as its accession to the WTO, to allow us to help the Chinese in their efforts. In so doing, we will benefit from what they can teach us, just like they benefit from what we can teach them.
There is also a considerable challenge as far as international assistance is concerned. China is not simply a developing country, nor is it simply a very developed country, it is a country dealing with both of these realities. In terms of economic development, eastern China's growth has outperformed that of Canada for several years. In western China, conditions are comparable to those in developing countries, in Africa or elsewhere in Asia. This reality will require that the Government of Canada take a more flexible approach, one that will take into consideration this reality.
If we simply compare China as a whole, we will end up with an approach that does not correspond to either part of China. We need to take this into account when setting up co-operation between Canada and China, keeping in mind that the Government of Canada has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to foreign assistance.
There are priorities, such as Africa. The Prime Minister wants this to be taken care of this summer, at the G-8 summit. However, judging from his last trip, there was not enough leadership to provide innovative ideas that would help rebuild the African economy. The Government of Canada needs to invest more money and be open to new methods of international co-operation. As for China, it will require a more original approach due to the conditions that I mentioned earlier.
Canada also has the challenge of dealing with Hong Kong. Hong Kong was a very significant entry point for Canadian immigration. Now, with economic change and more openness, the Chinese may have easier access to Canada by going directly through the government of the people's republic without necessarily having to go through Hong Kong. This would require very different services for these clients. As a result, the available resources should be redistributed. We may want to have more officials present in China to provide this service adequately.
There is also an interesting model. Indeed, Taiwan is a member of the WTO, as is the People's Republic of China. I was musing that, if the Canadian government had a similar philosophy, perhaps Quebec could have been a member of the WTO, as is Canada, and would have been able to express its views. However, the level of flexibility observed in China—as the result of history, of course—has not yet been reached here.
I would add to this picture the vision that I developed during my trip to China, last year, to really show the evolution and the reality there.
First, we travelled to Beijing, the capital of China, where the meeting of the people's national convention is held annually. It is the equivalent of the House of Commons, but it does not sit quite as long. Still, there are 3,000 delegates at the people's national convention. This means that, instead of having a House of Commons with 301 members such as we have here, there are 3,000 delegates in parliament. This creates a totally different approach. People who sit in parliament are not only from the Chinese majority, but also different ethnic communities. We can see that China is not monolithic. It is made up of a number of particular components.
Beijing is also a city and a capital that is being totally transformed and undergoing a lot of modernization. It also carries China's history. When one visits the Forbidden City, one can understand certain things about how the Chinese approach the world. It is important to know this aspect of reality. The Olympic Games will be held there in 2008. This is another aspect of their opening up and, in this regard, everyone in the world wants to give China a chance to take its place. The Chinese really have the ability to do so. When they pursue development, one can be sure that things go well. I strongly believe that they will be ready for the 2008 games.
I also visited Shanghai, an ultramodern city which has undergone several periods of colonization by the French, the English and other communities which influenced its development. However, it is still an important world trading hub. It is clear from the volume of transactions in its stock exchange that this is a very important part of the world when it comes to trade.
A neighbourhood has been developed there which makes it an ultramodern city. One has the feeling of being in a city of the 21st or 22nd century. This is an aspect of avant-garde China that we did not know about, but which is a sign of things to come in the next 10, 15 or 20 years in the economic development of China, with respect to the place it will occupy internationally and the balance it will help to create vis-à-vis the major power represented by the United States of America. Since the iron curtain has come down, since Communist government almost world-wide have been overturned and parliamentary democracies put in their place, Americans might, in some respects, be tempted to throw their weight around a bit.
I think that it is in our interest that the hubs be diversified and that we use the opportunity presented by China and its vast market, its economic potential and its great influence in Asia, to strike a balance on our planet. Ultimately, it could benefit both international decision-making and bilateral trade.
Obviously, there are challenges associated with signing an agreement such as the one concerning the accession of China to the WTO. It will require the development of even greater mutual respect between the two countries.
We even see this with our neighbour to the south, with whom we have long had a special relationship. We realize that a strong economy such as the U.S. can have a tendency—this is very clear in the case of the softwood lumber crisis—to take a bit of an imperialistic and protectionist attitude, an attitude that expects a small country like Canada to bow to the dictates of the U.S. economy.
So international agreements bring some discipline to these relations. We are going through some difficult periods, and the great American economy is still using measures to try to silence Quebec and Canada in the softwood lumber dispute. However, the WTO will make a ruling which, I believe, will be favourable to Canada.
The same thing may happen with China. It will be important for both sides to understand that there probably will be disputes to settle, but that it will be possible to do so within the WTO structure, which is far better than settling disputes in an unregulated context where the strongest always wins. We will certainly have the opportunity to influence each other.
As far as the judicial system is concerned, we could pass on to them elements which could easily be integrated in their own system and allow for a better harmonization between the will to administer justice and the way to do it. I think we have some co-operation in this area.
It seems to me that there is another very important aspect, and it is one of the main reasons why the Bloc Quebecois supports this bill. China and Quebec have developed a very special relationship.
Let us not forget that, during Mr. Bouchard's last economic mission, when he was still the Premier of Quebec, an agreement was signed for a Chinese textile company to open a plant, the China World Best, in Drummondville. It has now been built along the Jean-Lesage highway, and we can see the Chinese flag flying alongside those of Canada and Quebec.
Finally, it is the first investment outside China that is made this way. It was because the Chinese found in that region workers with expertise in the area of textile, and also because there is some kind of sentimental connection between Quebec and China.
Let us not forget that China is currently the country where the largest number of inter-country adoptions are negotiated by Quebecers. I think this is very important to the Chinese people, and we must understand that.
Before having business dealings, before getting involved in trade, those people need to have a well established personal relationship. They have to trust those they are dealing with. In that regard, they seem to have hit it off with Quebecers.
I noticed this, especially when I visited Shanghai. Besides Canadian representatives, we met with the Quebec delegate in Shanghai, Mr. Milot, who made me aware of these facts. He even came to Rivière-du-Loup the year after to give a lecture and to meet with potential exporters from my area and look at market development opportunities. At that time we were saying, “China will join WTO in the a few years and that will give us additional opportunities”.
We have now reached that point. The time has come for us to pass the legislation so that Canadian laws are consistent with the agreement allowing China to join the WTO.
We will have to meet particular challenges to enter these markets and get our share. I know that many engineering firms from Quebec have projects, in particular with regard to international co-operation in China. There is much interest in pursuing this.
Not a week goes by without a Chinese delegation coming to Quebec to meet with people who would like to be partners in economic development. Over the next few years, these visits will continue yield very promising results.
The last time a group of parliamentarians came to visit, we went to the Quebec National Assembly. The group was able to watch a debate between Bernard Landry and Jean Charest on the Quebec national issue. I was very proud that they were made aware of that reality. This can be done through interpersonal contacts, when parliamentarians come to visit us and when we go to China. Then we go beyond economic issues to establish personal relationships that will help to enhance co-operation.
Canada has a good reputation in China. Members will recall that Doctor Norman Bethune fought beside Chinese revolutionaries in the army of Mao Zedong. He has become a symbol for the Chinese. When Chinese parliamentarians come to Canada, they show great respect for him; they want to see the house where he grew up. Doctor Bethune spent a good part of his life in Montreal. He fought in Spain during the civil war, then went to China. He was an extraordinary ambassador for Canada. We can use this image to move things forward and improve not only our economic relationship but also our cultural and social relationship with China.
A good example of this is the Cirque du Soleil, which will set up in China. On the cultural level but also in terms of employment, this is a sector where we thought that the Chinese could bring us something, which remains quite possible anyway, but we will also have an exchange in that area, and the Cirque du Soleil will be present in China.
The agreement itself provides an opportunity to access an extraordinary market. It will also be a fantastic challenge. The 12 years provided for will be truly needed. This also implies on our part that we understand that in a win-win relationship, the Chinese will gain access to part of our market, while we will gain access to part of theirs, thus increasing co-operation, and economic, cultural and social exchanges.
One issue remains very sensitive however, and that is Tibet. It is believed that the accession of China to the WTO will give us greater influence through our relationship with the Chinese people and the Chinese government. I believe this is the right approach.
A concrete example of this is the fact that the Canada-China Parliamentary Association will travel to Tibet during its upcoming mission, in May. The Chinese themselves have offered us this opportunity. We will thus be able to witness firsthand what is going on and to assess the situation not only on the basis of what we will be shown but also through personal contacts and our personal assessment. I think this is the right way to advance issues.
During that trip, we plan to visit western China, where much remains to be done in terms of development. In that area of international co-operation, there is room for much collaboration between Canada and China, with great benefits for both. I think China's accession to the WTO will also be useful in this respect.
To conclude, I think it is important to be realistic about our relationship with China. It is important to ask ourselves questions about our overall relationship with China. We should not shy away from asking the tough questions. What does the future hold for Tibet? How does China see its relation with Tibet? All the discussions I have had so far have always been quite straightforward.
We can help this giant of a country which is China to take its place in diplomatic and economic relations around the world. This would also promote trade expansion. And then economic growth will lead to peace on earth, improved human rights and mutual understanding and assistance. We should not simply pass judgment on what is going on while ignoring history.
This means that, for all these reasons, it is appropriate for us to support this legislative proposal we have before us, which amends the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, the Customs Tariff Act and the Export and Import Permits Act.
This has some similarities to the signature of a treaty, which is interesting. It may be something the Canadian government should give priority to, that is having treaties ratified here on a regular basis, so that the House of Commons, which represents the population as a whole, can have a say, not just the Canadian government.
If this situation could serve as a precedent, that might indeed be worthwhile. In fact, what we are voting on here is legislative amendments to Canadian statutes, but at the same time this is a sort of agreement in principle or ratification by the House of Commons of the negotiations carried on for some years between China and the WTO and a number of countries, so that in the end an agreement can be reached that will make it possible to increase economic, social and cultural exchanges with the Chinese government.
Regarding this legislation we are voting on today, I hope that in 10, 15 or 20 years, we will realize that this has been an important step in increasing economic exchanges. It will also have contributed to a better balance between the various world powers. Based as it is on mutual respect between Canada and China, it will also make further developments possible.
I am sure that, down the road, a sovereign Quebec would also subscribe to the same sort of legislation in order to make it possible for the relationship between Quebec and China to expand in the years to come.
As we know, there have been collaborative efforts in the past, for instance in connection with hydroelectric power. The expertise we possess here in Quebec was of use in the Three Gorges dam project, which will likely be the biggest such project in the world. They are preparing to submerge whole sections of the country. This is a huge challenge, to put all the necessary infrastructure in place and to ensure that it is done under optimum conditions as much as possible.
There are interesting business opportunities. I know that one company from the Quebec City area signed an agreement with the Chinese government for the development of Chinese heritage historic sites, which, unfortunately, will be flooded once the dam is in place. However, there is still an interesting market for a new technology industry with computer potential and Internet based. So it is a project which, in the end, will give results.
I will give another example that shows the importance of this trade. We often hear that such international agreements are far removed from us and have no impact on us. However, to give members an example, the last crisis in Asia had an impact in my riding, in Saint-Alexandre, more particularly in a hog slaughterhouse. We used to sell a lot of pork on the Asian market, but there was a decrease in demand because of the crisis in that region. This created a surplus production that had to be distributed on the North American market. In the end, it had an economic impact on the number of jobs in the village of Saint-Alexandre-de-Kamouraska, in my riding.
Therefore, it is important to realize that these decisions made regarding international agreements are also a way of trying to increase our economic potential. One important challenge will be to ensure that the regions outside large urban centres can benefit from these exchanges.
I know that the Université du Québec à Rimouski, among others, has had this type of exchanges, as well as the Rimouski community in general. Chinese students will soon arrive in Rimouski to study there. This kind of co-operation can also work both ways.
For all these reasons, let us hope that this agreement will lead to increased exchanges. As for us, let us ensure that all the regions of Quebec and Canada can reap the benefits, so that signing this agreement and voting in favour of this bill makes us all winners.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
April 24th, 2002 / 3:30 p.m.
John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to discuss Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization.
I was in Doha, Qatar on the Persian Gulf in November at the WTO fourth ministerial conference. The People's Republic of China and Taiwan both gained entry to the WTO at the conference. Indeed it was a very historic time. After all, China is the most populous nation with 1.3 billion people. Even at this very momentous and historic occasion it was apparent there was continuing discomfort between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. At the time I put out this statement:
The addition of China and Taiwan to the WTO membership has added complexity to achieving consensus and may force the WTO into a United Nations style compromise. If this proves unworkable, bilateral and regional trading arrangements will continue to be necessary to ensure the World Trade Organization does not stray too far from a free trade agenda.
I obviously had some concerns at that time. China having one of the biggest and fastest growing economies in the world is undoubtedly a welcome addition to the World Trade Organization.
Mike Moore, the director general of the World Trade Organization, said that Beijing's greatest policy shift since the 1948 revolution which brought the communists to power was the signing of the 900 page document requiring the opening up of China's markets. In essence, what has happened is that China has agreed to join the world trade community on the world's terms. It has agreed to open up its marketplace to foreign trade and investment in return for reciprocal access to the markets of 142 WTO members.
This will undoubtedly have profound implications for China's internal politics and the compact between the people and the government. Some people have even argued that this is basically signing the death warrant of the communist party power in China. The communist party began opening up the economy about 20 years ago but resisted political reforms. Now that it has reached its limits of economic expansion, it now requires broader social and political reform.
Accession to the WTO has actually been described as the cleaver which severs the communist party's wilting grip on the last fragments of Marxist socialism. One might say that is an optimistic view. What is an optimistic view and one which I share is that its accession to the WTO will inevitably lead toward making the state subject to the rule of law. The communist government never accepted that. Let us hope that next year, upon the retirement of the prime minister of China, who was so instrumental in pushing this through, this does not fall apart.
We must remember that it would be in no one's interest for China to once again shatter into social discord. With accession to the WTO it is a huge opportunity for the Chinese people to create a modern political, social and economic system.
China has a somewhat open market. Millions are expected to lose their jobs. One of the reasons for that is because there are so many people working on the land who were there because the communist government subsidized crop prices in order to keep people on the land. Many of them will lose their jobs. Already we have 200 million unemployed in China. Therefore that is a very significant thing for them to do in a knowing fashion.
I am optimistic about all this because, if one goes back approximately 12 months, it was last April 1 that we had the collision between the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft and the Chinese jet fighter off the southeast coast of China. We remember all the diplomacy and the toing and froing on the fact that the U.S. plane was forced down into the People's Republic of China and was not given up for a long time and not in one piece. It had to be shipped back in pieces.
It was also done against the backdrop in that same month of April of a huge arms sale authorized by President Bush to Taiwan. Even against all of that just a short few months later everyone was on the same page more or less at the talks in Doha.
China has the potential to become one of the centres of manufacturing in the world. It currently attracts about three-quarters of all foreign direct investment in Asia which approximates $47 billion U.S. last year.
As a condition of its entry into the World Trade Organization China had to agree to allow existing WTO member states to bring in such legislation to deal with possible market disruptions or trade diversions. That is what Bill C-50, which we are debating, is all about from Canada's perspective. It would manage the transition period over the next decade or so as China modernizes its internal economic structures and legislation to conform to WTO practices.
All told, China must amend 570 pieces of legislation and more than 1,000 central government rules and regulations as part of its entry into the WTO. We have ongoing training on how to handle WTO rulings and so on occurring with judges and other members of the bureaucracy in China. Other countries have had to do this also under previous accessions. There are huge compliance problems related to even existing legislation in China.
From an overall perspective the impact and effect of Bill C-50 is that it is sufficient and appropriate legislation to ensure the creation of wealth, both for Canada and China, and not simply the redistribution of wealth, a concept that is foreign to at least one party in the House of Commons.
The legislation would introduce safeguards. While temporary in nature they would increase import duties, restrict the amount of imports and impose tariff rate quotas, all of which would protect Canada's economy and eliminate the possibility of injury to Canada's domestic industry during this phase-in period.
It is important to note that there would be a huge and wrenching change in China. We are putting in our safeguards for this is not a one-sided exercise. We must recognize that there are huge changes implicit in the accession of China to the WTO. It is very positive for the international community that, after 15 years of knocking on the door, China is now a WTO member. Actually, this accession was very good psychological news for the global economy.
The U.S. is the biggest foreign market for China and it has enjoyed most favourite nation trade status for some time and has been slowly lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers to imports and foreign investment. The other psychological good news is that the international community recognizes that China's huge population is in an early explosive economic boom. This has lots of people excited, particularly since Japan appears to be in somewhat of a perpetual recession these days. Japan being the traditional Asian powerhouse.
For the record, we cannot overlook certain issues associated with China. These issues include: the nature of China's economic system, its dealings with human rights, and its treatment of Taiwan.
As a condition of member concurrence for accession of China to the WTO, all of the WTO members were allowed to bring in legislation to deal with possible market disruptions or trade diversions. We must not forget that China has a state controlled economic system that is protectionist, still exploits labour and represses human rights.
While we welcome the People's Republic of China to the WTO we must wonder how serious it is about free trade from time to time as it still has a culture that invites unilateral actions which raise concerns in the international trade community. This is not to say that China's membership in the WTO would bring about overnight change and improvement in these areas. It does mean that China is now compelled to honour its WTO promises and obligations that in effect would make China more accountable for its practices in question.
The international business community of course does not enjoy litigation and reversion to the courts but rather looks for voluntary compliance with the spirit and intent of following the rules.
Regrettably just last week China's state run postal monopoly issued an order that would: limit express delivery by private companies to articles more than 500 grams, or 1.1 pounds; require all prices to be higher than the postal authority's; and forbid delivery to government, military or communist party offices or of any item addressed to an individual.This would virtually shut down the operations of United Parcel Service, Federal Express and three other large courier-style companies that are doing about 60% of the business in China.
Foreign companies have protested this attack on a very profitable business with annual sales of $1.2 billion growing at the rate of 30% to 50% annually. This industry carries billions of dollars worth of goods and employs tens of thousands of people. The central government's unilateral decision is bad for business, sends the wrong message and is counterproductive to China's own interests.
One can assume its centralized, top down, unilateral decision making based on its historical reference took over and reality would quickly lead to overturning this dumb decision before it does further damage. However China Post insists its actions did not violate any WTO agreements.
It is true that China agreed to open up many markets, but no deal was made on the courier business. Others argue that the attempt to restrict business breaks China's promise not to further limit any industry that has already been opened up to international competition and is in violation of WTO principles of nondiscrimination and fair competition. Inevitably disputes will arise and many will not be as clearly one sided as this bad decision by China on courier services.
Disputes are a part of any relationship and I am convinced that by having China in the WTO with a rules based framework, all parties are better off than if China were to be excluded. The greatest levellers of all are investors because unless they have confidence in the system, they will not invest, and without investment there will be no new wealth generated, and without new wealth everyone is a loser.
I now wish talk about Taiwan. Taiwan has a population of about 23 million. It is Canada's eighth largest trading partner and has the world's 12th largest economy. The significance of our trading relationship with Taiwan is often downplayed and that is why I emphasize our very significant relationship with Taiwan.
Last year Canadian exports to Taiwan almost exceeded $1 billion and our imports exceeded $4.4 billion. It is close to being completely WTO compliant in terms of legislation and only 14 pieces of legislation had to be amended as a result of its entry into the WTO.
Taiwan is a democracy that upholds the rule of law and goes out of its way to ensure it meets the spirit and the intent of international trading rules. While one must realize that Canada has to deal with the People's Republic of China and maintain good relations with it, there is no reason why Canadian policy toward Taiwanese government officials could not be much more accommodating.
In fact, Canada's relationship with Taiwan is hostile. Two years ago the Taiwanese minister of foreign affairs was not permitted to enter Canada.
One year ago the Taiwanese minister of health was not allowed into Canada because Canadian authorities said he might lobby for Taiwanese observer status at the World Health Organization.
To date Taiwan has developed formal diplomatic ties and established embassies in 28 small and uninfluential countries. We all heard the Liberal minister three days ago in the House excuse the Liberal government behaviour toward Taiwan's request for observer status at the World Health Organization and Canada's lack of support for that by saying that no other western democracy at the executive level had done it either. I say that is not a very good way to display leadership on this issue.
The U.S. senate has approved that request and we are waiting for the entire congress to do the same thing, which means the house of representatives also has to support that status.
What we have is 28 small and uninfluential countries with formal diplomatic ties and established embassies. As another 100 countries, like Canada, do not officially recognize Taiwan, it is forced to operate with “economic and cultural offices”. Canada has three such offices.
The Liberal government endorses the one China policy through its actions to the detriment of Taiwan, a healthy democracy, a very significant trading partner and a friend. Quite simply, this is wrong. The Liberal government is being hypocritical on human rights. When it comes to human rights issues in China, it is prepared to overlook abuses and at the same time tries to marginalize Taiwan which upholds the rule of law.
I have recently received letters from both the president of the Taiwan-Canadian Association of Ottawa and the president of the Greater Vancouver Taiwanese Canadian Association asking for my support in Taiwan's request for observer status at the World Health Organization. I have responded to both organizations and have stated that I fully endorse and support Taiwan's request for observer status.
The Canadian government cannot just sit back and remain silent on Taiwan issues and subordinate its Taiwanese policy to the dictates of the Chinese government. His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in a May 21, 2000, interview with Reuters and the American press stated that “Joining the WTO organization, I think is one way (for China) to change in the right direction... I think it is a positive development. In the long run, certainly (the trade agreement) will be positive for Tibet. Forces of democracy in China get more encouragement that way”.
China's movement against Falun Gong and similar Qi-gong groups, Protestants, Catholics and other religious groups reveals China's lack of commitment and adherence to internationally agreed upon standards for human rights. This should concern us all and we should especially be concerned about the lack of commitment the Liberal government demonstrates in holding China and Cuba accountable.
The Canadian government pretends to crusade for human rights issues internationally but when it comes to human rights in China or Cuba, it sells them out very quickly.
For this reason, it is extremely important that Canada express its concern on a number of issues including freedom of religion, expression, assembly, association, women's rights, children's rights, minority rights, good governance, cultural, social and economic rights.
I know that my colleague from Calgary Southeast will expand on some of the issues to which I just made reference and I welcome his comments.
I will conclude by saying that the world stands to benefit substantially from the liberalization measures that China has proposed as part of its secession to the WTO. I will also add that I agree with the safeguards and provisions that are contained in Bill C-50.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
April 24th, 2002 / 3:20 p.m.
David Kilgour Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to support Bill C-50, perhaps not surprisingly. The bill presents a number of legislative initiatives that would enable Canada to take full advantage of the new rights it obtained as a result of negotiations for China to accede to the World Trade Organization.
Over the past two decades China's economic growth has been among the highest in the world. Last year it was Canada's third largest trading partner after the U.S. and Japan. China's growing importance in the world economy makes it crucial that the Government of Canada continue to seek a constructive and open relationship with China. We need to ensure the continued capacity of Canadian exporters and investors to have access to the business opportunities in China that will present themselves as China grows and develops.
Now that China is a member of the World Trade Organization, the WTO will be the main multilateral forum to discuss these issues. The WTO is the main international forum for negotiating reductions in trade barriers. The members of the WTO have also agreed on a series of shared principles and practices to regulate and administer international trade. The system is based on the rule of law and on fundamental principles such as transparency, fair practices and non-discrimination.
After being admitted into the WTO on December 11, 2001, China began to significantly reduce trade barriers in goods and services. China also began a long-term process to amend its trade laws and regulations to make them compliant with the principles and practices set out in the WTO agreement.
The broad implications of the WTO rules mean that it will take China some time to implement fully its commitments. Although China's record on implementation so far, less than six months after it acceded, has not been perfect, we are satisfied that things are moving in the right direction and that China has been open to hearing us out and acting upon a number of Canadian concerns.
One of our areas of concern of course is agriculture. We have serious doubts about the unnecessarily heavy trade impact of Chinese regulations on genetically modified foods, such as Canadian exports of canola seed. We are also disappointed that China has still not fully implemented tariff rate quotas that are necessary for trade in a number of agricultural commodities. We will continue to pursue vigorously these matters on behalf of our farmers and food processors.
We will continue to apply vigilance over all Canadian export sectors to ensure that exporters do enjoy the benefits set out in the terms of accession.
China's accession to the WTO provides us with one more way to resolve trade disputes with China. The government will do everything it can to have its rights under the WTO upheld.
Our trade relations with the U.S. show that disputes and irritants remain while trade increases and we move toward more complementary economies. Also, during the 50 years the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was in effect and now under the WTO, we have noticed an unprecedented increase in international trade along with strong economic growth around the world. What is even more important is that this trade expansion led to better quality of life for the residents of trading nations and for all of us.
By joining the WTO, China made a long-term commitment toward freer trade. It has acknowledged the indubitable relation between opening up to the world economy and economic growth. Therefore, we are convinced that China will continue its efforts to honour the international commitments it made during the 15 years of negotiation that led to its accession to the WTO.
Negotiations to join the WTO usually affect only the acceding country, requiring it to make concessions and changes to its domestic laws and regulations. Amendments to Canadian legislation are normally not required.
In these negotiations, WTO members sought and obtained the right to invoke China-specific safeguards and to apply appropriate non-market economy rules in anti-dumping investigations on Chinese goods. These are the measures that are implemented in Bill C-50 as members will all know.
These measures were designed to address China's unique place in the world economy as a major exporter with high tech production capacity and a large degree of government intervention and involvement in the economy. All WTO members have the right to implement them if they choose to do so. Other members are also taking necessary steps to amend their domestic, regulatory or legislative framework as necessary.
Under the China-specific safeguards, which will apply for 12 years following its accession, that is until December 11, 2013, Canada will be able to impose special trade measures to protect Canadian industries from injurious surges of imports from China.
The anti-dumping provisions in Bill C-50 allow WTO member countries to use special rules to determine price comparability in an anti-dumping investigation, while China makes the transition to a market economy. The rules will be in effect for 15 years following China's accession.
These measures will complement the existing provisions of the Canadian legislation on safeguards and anti-dumping proceedings, which are based on the WTO agreements, including the agreements concerning safeguards and anti-dumping procedures.
It is important to note that these special measures will apply only to imports from the People's Republic of China. They will not apply to imports from Hong Kong or Taiwan, which are separate members of the WTO.
The government does not foresee an increase in injurious surges of imports from China as a result of the WTO accession which would require the use of the China-specific safeguards. China already has quite open access to Canada's market and its terms of access to the Canadian market will remain largely unchanged as a result of its WTO accession.
Implementation of these measures will ensure that Canada and affected Canadian industries have at their disposal the full range of rights that were agreed to during the multilateral negotiations in the World Trade Organization. Such industries support the implementation of these measures in Bill C-50 since they provide additional tools to respond to potentially injurious imports.
For all of these reasons, I respectfully urge colleagues in the House to support the bill.
Committees of the House
April 19th, 2002 / noon
Mac Harb Ottawa Centre, ON
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Pursuant to the order of reference of Friday March 22, 2002, the committee proceeded with the examination of Bill C-50, an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, and agreed to report it without amendment.
Business of the House
Oral Question Period
April 18th, 2002 / 3:05 p.m.
Ralph Goodale Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Mr. Speaker, as the House knows, for four days this week the House could have had thoughtful and fulsome debate on the report stage of Bill C-5 about species at risk. Unfortunately, the official opposition did not appear particularly interested in that.
Nevertheless, I will continue to consult with opposition House leaders to try to reach agreement on how to complete the debate on that very important legislation and I hope that there will be more interest shown than we have seen so far.
In the meantime, the House will proceed this afternoon with consideration of the Senate amendments to Bill C-15A, amending the criminal code. Tomorrow we will debate Bill S-34, respecting royal assent, followed by Bill S-40, respecting financial clearing houses.
On Monday we will return to any unfinished business from this week and, if there is time, we will turn to Bill C-15B, which of course is another criminal code amendment.
Later next week, if Bill C-50, the bill dealing with the WTO, and Bill C-49, dealing with excise, are in fact reported back to the House from committee in time, we will deal with their final stages as well as concluding any business left over from Monday.
As the House already knows, Tuesday, April 23 and Thursday, April 25 will be allotted days.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
March 22nd, 2002 / 12:30 p.m.
Rick Borotsik Brandon—Souris, MB
Mr. Speaker, I will be brief in my comments, but I think it is the responsibility of my party in particular, the Progressive Conservative Party now in co-operation with the DRC, to stand and speak about free trade. We are and have been the free traders of the House and were instrumental in the negotiations of the free trade agreement, the NAFTA, put into place by the previous government. At the time it was suggested that it would not be supported by this government. Once elected, even the Liberals in their exuberance recognized that the only way in which this country would grow and expand would be to expand our markets and base those markets on rules based trade. In saying that, we are supportive of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the WTO family.
I have a lot of respect for the previous speaker from the NDP party, the member for Palliser. Although we do agree on some issues, we will agree to disagree on these issues with respect to the accession of China into WTO, free trade and how it is dealt with nationally and globally. One cannot put one's head in the sand. One must look at the possibility of bringing China into the free trade age and certainly into the global family.
My hon. colleague suggests that China has some difficulties and I would agree with him. In the past it has been seen as having some human rights issues, workplace safety issues and certainly some issues with respect to organized labour. However, one does not turn one's back on China and simply hope that the problems go away. What one does is incorporate China into globalized trade, which we know and realize so well is necessary for countries to be involved in if they are to expand their own economies.
China is a marketplace that is absolutely phenomenal, well in excess of 1.1 billion people who have a huge demand for goods and services being produced throughout the world. Equally, the world has a huge demand for the goods and services that can be produced within the People's Republic of China. It is important for China to have the opportunity to develop that economy.
Recently I had the opportunity of meeting with some of the political lawmakers of China at the Asia-Pacific parliamentary forum. I can assure the member for Palliser that these individuals are very excited about joining the ranks of the WTO. They are very excited about becoming better as a nation. They are very excited about being able to expand their now narrow focus into a global focus. This makes me very proud that Canada was a partner to China's accession to the WTO.
I believe very strongly that given the proper guidance, the proper opportunities and the proper abilities, the People's Republic of China too will become a very good partner in this world of global trade.
Regardless of what the hon. member from the NDP says, we recognize there are those issues. We recognize that allowing China to come into global trade will hopefully help with those problems. The Progressive Conservative/DRC Party will be supporting Bill C-50. We welcome China and thank its people for the opportunity to open up their wonderful market to Canadian goods and services.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
March 22nd, 2002 / 12:20 p.m.
Dick Proctor Palliser, SK
Mr. Speaker, as I was saying before question period and statements, the New Democratic Party is not opposed to international trade. We strongly support fair trade.
If I may digress for a moment, this week the agriculture committee had the opportunity to be in eastern Canada, in the maritime provinces, to hear from farmers. One farmer had a very good definition of the free trade agreement that Canada has with the United States. This gentleman said that under the free trade agreement, the U.S. had rights and Canada had obligations. I think that is a very significant statement and one that deserves to be underlined.
We support fair trade, but if Canada imports Chinese products, and we are talking about Bill C-50 today, that are manufactured by workers receiving paltry wages, subjected to unsafe working conditions and denied the right to organize to bargain collectively, then such trade cannot be considered fair. Trade which results in the perpetuation or augmentation of global inequality is not fair trade.
We are living in a time of unprecedented international trade and yet the differences in income among citizens of the world has never been more stark. A report in the latest edition of the Economic Journal says that the richest 1% of people around the world receive as much as the bottom 57% of citizens. It goes on to say that if poverty is defined as the average income level at which citizens of western Europe and North America are eligible for social assistance, then a full 78% of the global population should be considered to be impoverished.
International trade has been heralded for too long as the solution to global poverty and underdevelopment. The truth is that when trade is conducted under the auspices of fundamentally undemocratic organizations controlled by the corporations that they are designed to serve, trade will only serve to perpetuate global inequality and poverty.
I will say simply that this party is opposed to Bill C-50.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
March 22nd, 2002 / 10:40 a.m.
Dick Proctor Palliser, SK
Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to rise in the House. Today I want to speak to Bill C-50, which is an act to amend certain acts as a result of the accession of the People's Republic of China to the agreement establishing the WTO, the World Trade Organization.
Bill C-50 seeks to amend the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, the Customs Tariff, the Export and Import Permits Act and the Special Import Measures Act in order to protect Canadian industries from being overwhelmed by new Chinese imports resulting from that country's accession to the WTO. The proposed amendments are specific to Canada's trade with China and do not impact on trade with other countries, nor does Bill C-50 impact on the accession of China to the WTO, which happened in December of this past year; rather, it proposes changes to Canadian legislation to deal with this fact.
I thought it would be useful for the House to have me to look at our party's policy with regard to China over the past 50 plus years. Our party's predecessor, the Commonwealth Co-operative Federation, the CCF, consistently supported Canadian recognition of Peking and the people's republic and its admission to the United Nations on the grounds that to exclude the de facto government of the most populous nation on the earth from the council of nations was an absurdity that endangered both world peace and security.
When the NDP was founded in 1961 we picked up that cause at our founding convention and led the fight for recognition of China and its admission to the United Nations, which culminated in 1970 with an exchange of ambassadors between Peking and Ottawa and the eventual admission of China to the United Nations the following year. In part the party's position was a reflection of the fact that the NDP membership was generally more internationalist than the old line parties and in part it was linked to the party's broader theme of developing an independent foreign policy, that is, independent from that of the United States.
Under the leadership of T.C. Douglas, we also advocated the inclusion of China in international trade and economic agreements, broader cultural and intellectual contacts between China and the west and an invitation for China to join with the other four nuclear powers in working toward disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation agreements. That was important because China had become a nuclear power with the explosion of its first atomic bomb in 1964.
In 1989 when I had the privilege of being the federal secretary of our party, the federal council passed a major resolution on the Asia-Pacific region that called for:
a comprehensive Asia-Pacific policy...based on the principles of common security which promote international cooperation and recognize that environmental, development and human rights issues are all intrinsically related to security.
With respect to China, the resolution said specifically:
New Democrats have great admiration and respect for the Chinese people. We deplore the Chinese regime's massacre of its own people in Tiananmen Square and we are very concerned about the increasing repression of the regime in recent months. We strongly object to the occupation of Tibet and the human rights abuses that have taken place there.
Further on Tiananmen Square, it was the member for Winnipeg--Transcona who on June 5, 1989, in the House condemned the inexplicable actions of the Chinese government at Tiananmen Square and called on the Canadian government to communicate, in the strongest possible way, Canada's outrage at those brutal deaths and the injuries against thousands of young people who had the spirit for greater democracy. That member stated our party's respect for the Chinese revolution and its many achievements for the Chinese people and our collective dismay that the revolution, which began with so much passion for social justice, should come to such a brutal point that the People's Liberation Army was firing on its own people. That speech condemned the “gross violation of human rights” and urged the Canadian government to do everything in its power to ensure that the killing was stopped and the road to democratization, which the students so ably represented, was resumed.
The Asia-Pacific policy was passed by our party in 1989 and the resolution also raised concerns about the environmental implications of some forms of development and condemned Canadian assistance for such projects. For example, the Canadian government's participation in the Three Gorges dam project in China appeared to be motivated more by the possibility of lucrative contracts for Canadian multinationals than concern for the welfare of the people living in the vicinity of the project. Environmentalists warned that the project could have enormous environmental implications that would seriously endanger the health of the neighbouring population and involve the dislocation of one million people.
With respect to the issue of the Three Gorges dam, in 1995 the member for Burnaby--Douglas urged our government to support a resolution at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights with respect to China and to speak out against human rights abuses. He called for the withdrawal of Canadian support for both the Three Gorges dam and the sale of CANDU reactors to China.
The Asia-Pacific resolution also deplored the inattention of the Canadian government to growing militarization and nuclear proliferation in the Pacific Ocean and called on the government to pursue multilateral arms reduction talks aimed at reversing and destabilizing trends and moving toward the creation of a nuclear free and independent Pacific Rim.
As I mentioned at the outset, the People's Republic of China formally acceded to the WTO on December 11 last year after 15 years of negotiations with member states. It is a country of 1.3 billion people, has the world's seventh largest economy and is the ninth largest exporter. While many Canadian exporters are anxious to gain increased access to the vast Chinese market, many other Canadian industries fear that they may drown in the anticipated surge of Chinese imports.
New Democrats are currently opposing Bill C-50, the bill before us today, which amends various pieces of legislation, to protect Canadian industries from being overwhelmed by new Chinese imports resulting from China's accession to the WTO. Our opposition to the bill relates to our objections to China's accession, for a number of reasons.
First, China stands out internationally for its flagrant disregard of human rights. The WTO does not seek to enforce standards of human rights. It is concerned only with the facilitation of international trade. China is anxious to join the WTO to increase its export markets, however, the terms of accession permit a significant volume of agricultural goods to enter China, including exports from Canada, which presents a real threat to Chinese agricultural industries and rural Chinese communities although we note and believe that steps will be taken to ensure that those exports are in the minority, not the majority.
Workers in Chinese industries will be negatively impacted by increased trade under the WTO, including agriculture and automotives, because they have no recourse to collective bargaining or free trade unions. In March 2001 China ratified the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights, but filed a reservation under Article 8.1(a) to prevent workers from freely forming trade unions in that country.
In the Chinese automotive industry, which was referred to by the previous speaker, reduced tariffs under the WTO agreement will mean that exports will quickly flood the Chinese market, resulting in tremendous strain on workers in that country. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions reports that 10 million Chinese auto workers are forecast to lose their jobs as a result of China's entry into the WTO. Also, as we all know and as is well documented, China also has an abysmal record on workplace health and safety.
The New Democratic Party does not oppose international trade. We strongly support fair trade but if Canada imports Chinese products manufactured by workers receiving paltry and substandard wages, subjected to unsafe working conditions and denied the right to organize and bargain collectively, then such trade cannot be considered in any way fair trade. Trade which results in the perpetuation or augmentation of global inequity is not fair trade.
We oppose the structure and secrecy of the World Trade Organization and believe that the accession of China to the WTO further legitimizes and perpetuates a system which ignores international labour standards and fundamental environmental concerns resulting from its trading regime and consistently rejects efforts to correct these inadequacies. Our trade policy specifically opposes expanding trade on those terms.
Three years ago the NDP resolved to demand that the government make binding and enforceable protections of core labour rights an integral feature of all international agreements on trade and investment to which this country is a party. We further insisted that before there is any additional trade or investment liberalization at the WTO, that organization itself must deal with social, environmental, labour and human rights issues in an enforceable manner or that other international agreements and institutions, which concern themselves with issues like labour and the environment, be given the teeth necessary to sanction behaviour that violates agreed upon statements.
In other words, what we are saying is that we want something similar to the European Union and the pact that exists there where environmental standards and labour regulations are built into that agreement. We do not have that under the WTO and we certainly do not have it under the free trade agreement or the NAFTA.
International trade has been heralded for too long as the solution to global poverty and underdevelopment. The truth is that when trade is conducted under the auspices of fundamentally undemocratic organizations controlled by the corporations they are designed to serve, trade will only perpetuate global inequality and poverty.
I also want to put on the record our concerns about one of the latest human rights violations that is taking place in China, and that is the repression of groups like the Falun Gong petitioners. We were discouraged when we learned that when Canada had the opportunity to pick up the slack and speak out on this issue at an international forum, we dropped the ball and chose not to speak. This is contrary to what the member for Mount Royal said, a member who I give full credit and marks to for speaking to this issue in an all party human rights caucus. He said:
--we are witnessing the most persistent and pervasive assault on human rights in China since Tiananmen Square [in 1989].
The member said that the current Chinese government denies peoples' religious freedoms, systematically suppresses independent political activities, imprisons political opponents, violates rights to free speech and has conducted a crackdown on writers and activists.
Given the work of that member and that all party committee, it is unfortunate that the Canadian government remained silent this week at an international forum when it could have spoken out loudly and should have.
In conclusion, for Canada the implications of China's accession to the WTO are less clear. We negotiated a favourable deal that allows for 12 years of domestic protection during which threatened industries intend to prepare for increased competition from imports. Whether that turns out to be sufficient protection remains to be seen.
Canadians exporters and service providers will indeed gain much increased access to the Chinese market in that transition period. Whether or not Canadian production will migrate to China in search of cheaper labour any more than it already has, also cannot be determined at this time.
We in our party oppose the WTO in principle. It is for this reason that we oppose Bill C-50. The WTO is undemocratic in the sense that there is no parliamentary oversight of its operations. There is no opportunity for the views of concerned citizens to be heard. Its rulings are made by tribunals in secret. It has consistently resisted the imposition of human rights requirements on its trading regime.
The WTO has ignored calls for international labour standards to be enforced. It has consistently ignored environmental concerns resulting from its trading regime. The WTO is at heart an organization designed to facilitate corporate globalization through the removal of barriers to trade and the undermining of national sovereignty.
Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act
March 22nd, 2002 / 10 a.m.
Ken Epp Elk Island, AB
Mr. Speaker, Bill C-50 is a bill of no small proportions. It is a bill which we should all, as members in the House, pay very close attention to because of its implications.
Having introduced it in this way and peaked the interest of members, I now need to say what it is about because everyone will be wondering what this important bill is that we are debating on Friday morning with the attention of all 301 members of parliament fully at hand.
We are debating a bill that will establish and increase our ability to trade with the People's Republic of China. It is a very interesting bill because we already have a great deal of trade going on with China. For many years we have exported, among other things, grain to China. For many years we have given it good credit conditions so it could buy our wheat and hopefully pay for it a little later. We are all aware of the fact that many items which we purchase are made in China.
I was intrigued to notice that my little timer clock was built in China. Many computer things we use are built in China. I had the opportunity the other day to do a little home repair and lo and behold, in big clear letters on my pliers it said “Made in China”. Over and over we see this. I have an electronic daytimer, which I hesitate to take out of my pocket. I am totally dependent on my auxiliary brain which is made in China.
One reason that trade with China is so important is the fact that it has such a huge population. It really boggles the mind to think of how large our target is in terms of doing trade with China. I anticipate that as we bring China fully into the World Trade Organization the impact on many economies, including Canada's, will be even greater than it is now.
The bill we are dealing with today is a housekeeping bill. It does not really talk about issues. That is one of the failures of the government. It often brings in legislation that is housekeeping in nature, the purpose of which is to amend certain bills, motions and agreements so that these trade deals can proceed. However I do not recall, at least in the eight some years that I have been here, that we have ever had in the House or even in committee a good philosophical debate about how we should handle trade with China.
Over and over many members of the House raised, shall I call it, the red flag of human rights abuses in China. Some members, and I think a lot of Canadians, think that we should put increasing pressure on China to reduce human rights abuses in their country. All of us probably have etched into our mind the history of Tiananmen Square and how the People's Republic of China really did stifle in a very high handed manner what appeared to us, at least in the way it was reported, to be a legitimate political protest. In Canada of course we feel that to protest on a political basis is almost a right. In China it is not a right. The people there do not enjoy anywhere near the freedoms that we do in this country.
It is interesting to know that our total imports from China at this stage are worth in excess of $11 billion per year. That is a significant number. Many of those goods are brought into this country competing with products which are produced in Canada. It is very important that when we enter into as trade agreement with China that we have a mechanism to balance the impact that volume of trade can have.
The whole idea of free trade and trade under the World Trade Organization is to increase the economies of both countries in the agreement.
What we are looking for is one of those win-win situations where both countries involved in the agreement benefit. As the Parliament of Canada, we should ensure that safeguards are built in to prevent the very populace and the huge country of China from totally overwhelming little old 30 million population Canada. We really are vulnerable when we are talking about a population that has over one billion people and we have 30 million. It is very disproportionate. Therefore it is important that our rules and regulations be such that we reduce at least the probability of us being overwhelmed economically by trade with China.
We should look at not only the human rights implications in trade agreements that we have but also the large economic spin-off that occurs when we enter into trade agreements with such a large country with an overwhelming economy.
At this stage it would be accurate to say that parliament's involvement, the people of Canada's involvement via their parliament , in setting up these trade agreements has been woefully inadequate. We just do not have the opportunity to debate.
One thing that really bothers me is that our negotiators often go out to these different organizations, whether it is a trade organization or whether it is the United Nations, and unilaterally carry with them Canada's position without that position ever having been debated and established by parliament. This is particularly annoying when there are some things which are obviously to our detriment and parliament could have, if it were permitted to fulfill its role, alerted the negotiators to the implications, and some of the problems could have been averted and resolved in advance.
We believe parliament should be involved and should ratify these agreements which establish a new economic relationship with other countries. This is a huge missing link in the work of parliament. Sometimes I wonder what the role of parliament is. I told some people in the riding not long ago that we were getting more MPs, and that is great. However I said what was the purpose of having more MPs since under the present regime the MPs who were here were not even allowed to think for themselves. They cannot even choose for themselves their choice of a chairperson of a committee. That is orchestrated by the Prime Minister's Office.
In my view there should be much greater consultation with Canadians through their parliament on these agreements. The agreements should be brought to parliament for scrutiny and for ratification. To me, that is a given. It is so obvious I cannot even proceed to build an argument for it. I cannot think of a single argument against that, so how can I not proceed to argue for it by refuting those arguments against it. There are none. We should just be doing it.
Another thing which I think is important for us to know is some of the details of Bill C-50.
I would point out there are some safeguards in the bill which seem to at least be going in the right direction. It is called a products specific safeguard. This could be applied to any good originating in China that was causing or threatening to cause injury to Canadian industry.
I know that the people in Ontario are more interested in car manufacturing than we are out west. We have no manufacturing plants for vehicles in western Canada. We should have. That is another one of the flaws of Canada. We have totally concentrated the industrial development mostly in the province of Ontario and somewhat in Quebec. Out west we are basically hewers of wood and haulers of water. It is unfortunate that we are not permitted to develop industry which is relative to our natural resources.
This is a bit of deviation from the particular bill, but I would point out that the Federal Government of Canada has primarily put the big barriers against us being able to do things like establish a pasta plant. That is again so eminently obvious.
Saskatchewan is almost the breadbasket of the world with all the agricultural products which are produced in the prairie provinces. Why should we simply take our raw materials off the land and ship them over to China for processing there and then buy some of them back after they are processed? That is nothing short of simply shipping jobs out of our country. There is no excuse for that.
It would reduce unemployment. It would give us a much greater sense of independence. It would help us in terms of international security to have a truly independent food supply since we would be set up not only to produce it but also to process it and get it table ready. I will continually press for more of such economic activity out in the regions. It boggles the mind why the government would continue to oppose that and not allow Canadians out west the freedom to market and to process their own product.
Bill C-50 has in it a safeguard which would limit the intrusion of Chinese products into our country if those products would threaten or cause injury to our industry.
There is a diversionary safeguard, which is interesting. It would prevent goods that are shut out of one market from overflowing into Canada. The most obvious example would be if the Americans were to put up a trade barrier so that the China was unable to deliver its product to the United States. This safeguard would, at least it appears to us, put the brake on that. It may not stop it entirely but at least it would prevent dumping of any product that is produced in China from overwhelming the Canadian economy. Basically it is like anti-dumping legislation.
There are specifically safeguards related to textile and clothing. We have factories across this country that produce textiles and clothing. I happen to frequently buy clothing that says “made in Montreal”. It is one of the few areas in which we are permitted to trade within our country. That would be another diversionary speech that I could give on all the trade barriers we have within our country. Recently of course there has been quite a bit of publicity on the barrier between Quebec and Ontario.
Obviously this is something that the two provinces have to work out. I would like to see the federal government take a larger leadership role in bringing these parties together for meaningful negotiations and to open up our interprovincial borders for trade.
Bill C-50 is meant to improve our trading relationships with China without detrimentally affecting our own industry and our own economy. I sincerely hope that is what will happen with the passage of this bill.
We ought to be aware that there is another little element. I will not get into it in depth, but there is a question about the adjoining state of Taiwan. We also have certain trading arrangements with that country. As we proceed into a trading relationship with China, we have to make sure that no barriers are put up to our trade with other countries which also have a great impact on our country.
I would like to read a page from our policy book. It is one of the things our party has always emphasized, as we did with the previous party before we became the Canadian Alliance. We are the only party that starts with basic principles. We used to have 21 principles and on those principles were built 75 policies. Those overriding policies drive our responses to different legislation.
I would like to read an item into the record. It is important for Canadians to know that the Canadian Alliance is a party that thinks through these things in a broad sense and on a principled basis prior to getting into individual pieces of legislation. Item No. 56 from our policy book states:
We support a foreign policy that protects Canada's sovereignty and independence, promotes our national interests (political, economic and strategic), contributes to collective security and defence, promotes democratic principles and human rights, and assists in international development. We will pay particular attention to maintaining good bilateral relations with our most significant trading partners.
There is one thing which totally puzzles me. There is no doubt that our most significant trading partner is the United States, yet I am appalled at the attitude which is sometimes displayed by the Prime Minister toward it. I wish that greater efforts would be taken toward building a solid co-operative relationship with it, particularly pertaining to trade and all the border issues. The Liberal government is altogether too lackadaisical in looking at these issues and their importance.
There is no doubt that because of China's size it has the potential of also becoming another of our very significant trading partners, even much greater than it is now.
Tonight when everyone puts up their feet and flips on their TV, they should look at the back of the remote control. It was probably made in China. The label on the back of the television will probably indicate it was made in China. A lot of the tools in our toolboxes were made in China.
Our trade with China is inevitable. It would be a huge error to enter into trade with a country without working agreements that safeguard Canada's interests. In that regard I believe the bill goes in the right direction. Perhaps there are some minor things which need to be adjusted.
Certainly I would like to have a broader debate sometime in the future in which we look at the bigger picture of what this means to us politically and economically around the world. We need to do more of that.
Meanwhile the bill is one which deserves our support. It is my intention to support it and probably most of my colleagues will as well.
I do not want to remind the Speaker of his job, but I have gone about 30 seconds over my time. I am willing to give the floor to the next person who I am sure will have even more interesting things to say than I did.